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Three things I learned from my daughter and her lemonade stand.

July 1, 2010 - Author: Dan Vonderheide - Comments are closed

A group of friends from my church are working with a non-profit called Touched Twice United to host a one-day health and healing clinic that ministers to people who can’t afford basic health care.  It’s a cool project that we’ve taken on for the summer to try and make a difference to some people in the LaGrange, Kentucky area.

Anyway, as part of our fundraising efforts, my wife and daughters thought it would be a good idea to set up a lemonade stand in our neighborhood last weekend to take advantage of the neighborhood yard sale that day.  Instant traffic of hot, thirsty people looking for a cool drink.  Great targeting.

So we bought our supplies, loaded up the wagon, and went to a busy intersection near the front of the neighborhood.  We set up the table, made the freshest product we could, decorated the table, and waited for the customers.  They’d pull up in their cars, order the drink, and we’d pour them a fresh glass.

After a short time, five-year old daughter says “Daddy, what if we poured some glasses of lemonade before people get here.  Then when they want some, it will be more faster [sic]”.

So a little girl is already thinking efficiency in customer experience.  Genius.  She understands inherently that the thirsty customer wants their product now – and probably understood that the next guy in line could be served faster.  Lesson: Efficient procedures bring happy customers and more opportunity for business.

Around 10:30 a.m., my wife swung by with a couple bags of popcorn so we could enjoy a morning snack.  I appreciated the thought and the saltiness.  After we all had a few handfulls, the same little businesslady says “Daddy, maybe we could put some popcorn in a cup and we could sell a little snack along with their lemonade.  Would that be a good idea?”.

Yes, sweetie.  It was a great idea.  She had the concept of something a little extra – an upsell if you will – that would enhance the customer experience and set us a notch above the lemonade stand around the corner.  She was even proactive at offering the popcorn to customers buying some lemonade.  It easily put a couple extra dollars in the jar. Lesson:  Take a look at your resources and find cost-effective ways to increase profit margin by increasing the quality of the customer experience.

As all five-year olds must, she needed a potty break soon after that so I sent her down the street to a friend’s house.  Upon her return, she was shocked that her sister and I had dipped our hand into the inventory and eaten the remainder of the popcorn.  She was aghast.

What she didn’t know, however, was that her three-year old sisters was growing impatient and cranky and was becoming somewhat disgruntled with her “job”.  In order to keep a happy employee, I was willing to offer her a cup of popcorn.  It worked and we were able to stay set up with our stand for another 45 minutes and sell more lemonade, adding several more dollars to the kitty. I explained to her that since our sign didn’t say “LEMONADE AND POPCORN STAND”, the customers wouldn’t miss the popcorn and their expectations would remain intact.  Lesson: Keep your employees happy, even if it impacts the bottom line. Business is more pleasant and productive for everyone involved.

So we ended up taking home around $20 from a lemonade stand.  I don’t remember much about the stands I ran when I was a kid, but I guarantee you that I didn’t come home with Andrew Jackson on any of the currency.

Categories: Business Principles, Management